The honest truth : The 411

Lifestyle

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We are fighting a battle against the world just to lead a healthy life. Most governments have relaxed food regulations simply because of the lobbying that takes place by the largest companies in the world, the ‘low fat’ products are tweaked with higher sugar contents, the ‘heart healthy’ label is just a show and the foods that are the worst for your health are the cheapest and most easily available! So really we are up against the world to help ourselves just to lead a healthy lifestyle which we should be taking for granted.

When someone is overweight, they know it. They live it everyday, struggling to decide how to reach their goal or the body they once had. The journey to living a healthier lifestyle is definitely not only physical, if it were you could train as hard as ‘physically’ capable and there you’d have it. Its 80% mind and 20% body, take it from me! A person who has tried numerous fad diets and exercise routines relentlessly till I fell off the wagon and realized I am back to square one. This time when I made this decision, I knew conditioning my mind would take priority over training ‘really’ hard for these short bursts so I decided to look at the reality of it all.

How the hell did this happen to me?

Before I began to drown into the self-loathing side of thinking this is all my fault, I looked around me. I wasn’t born craving a brownie or other complex carbohydrates, these addictive toxins were introduced to us from an early age. Our parents became the first victims of the ‘fast food’ era and at that time with limited information and understanding, whatever was branded well, worked! It was almost thought of as a luxury to serve Coke during dinners back when we were toddlers or eating a happy meal at McDonalds when you went on vacation. Our bodies which were like well oiled machines built to fight the harshest of weathers had now gotten a taste of the sugars and complex carbohydrates and thus the beginning of the end!

I get it, most people blame the overweight person for reaching where they are but what about the alarming rate of obese children? Are they heading to the grocery store feeding themselves junk food? I don’t think so. As the new generation of parents/ parents to be or the parents will be, you have all the information in the palm of your hands to save your children! Our parents weren’t so lucky but we are, so there’s no excuse! Speak up in school, get together with other mothers, speak up to the people who might be introducing these toxins to your children; I’m sure you would if someone was providing your toddler drugs!!

In this context, my nieces’ school in London has implemented such guidelines to help the parents and children. Ultimately your child spends most of their time in school so its the perfect place to start! They are taught which ones are ‘good’ foods and ‘bad’ foods, you can’t give sugary goodies for lunch and when its a child’s birthday, you treat all the other kids to a variety of fruits! This way my niece tells her mother what she wants to eat and as a 4 year old has enough knowledge to decide to eat more ‘good’ foods than ‘bad’ foods. I know you are probably thinking you can’t deny your children chocolates all of a sudden and I’m not telling you to either, start replacing it with fruit sugars and take it from there. Become the first parents to have healthy foods at their birthday party, talk to the schools to introduce such guidelines and imagine the difference you can make for all these children. It’s the best for your baby!

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So back to understanding how I got to this point, I realized now that being raised with the constant availability of such ‘bad’ foods had resulted in this and when I went to boarding school there was no one to control my eating and the body adjusted to taking in larger amounts of these toxins. From then on as a 16 year old, I remember my struggle had already started. The crash diets, the short burst of working out and then giving up. My body wanted to lose the weight but my mind was addicted and it would convince me that it was okay to have whatever I wanted. The mind is a powerful authority.

As I got older, this vicious ‘yo-yo’ cycle continued because I had always tried the short cut diets and workouts which are fed into society by companies minting money off of people’s self loathing attributes. You lose water, maybe half a pound of fat and lots of muscle and you are in awe because you’ve lost 10 lbs in a week! Believe me, I was a victim every time. It’s funny because while it’s difficult to feel good carrying all that extra weight, you adjust to loving temporary moments of happiness to compensate like wearing expensive bags or shoes. Start investing in your health because honestly, if your body isn’t there who’s going to wear the expensive bags and shoes anyway? What will those bags do when you can’t run around with your child? Nothing.

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Today, I am in a much happier place because I have accepted the fact that it will take time to undo what I have done to my body over 10 years. At least I am ¬†closer to my goal today than I was 3 months ago. I will be honest with you, the first month was absolute hell. It’s like someone in rehab trying to get over their addiction; my skin broke out, I was cranky, moody, etc. etc. but today? My skin has a healthy glow, I naturally don’t crave any sugars, my doctor told me my blood work looks like a sample of the healthiest people, I sleep through the night and my mindset is so much stronger than yesterday! Let’s help each other and our children and their children and their children’s children so they never have to fight this battle. A battle which we can tackle!

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I’ll share my daily day with you so you can see if it works for you. It’s not about body image issues, its about being healthy firstly for yourself and then your loved ones. Be smarter about your investments, invest in your health today!

 

 

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Fresh as fresh! Not your average tomato basil pasta

food

The pasta supper is clearly the most common ‘go to’ dish in most households. Its easy; boil some pasta, dump a jar of the store bought pasta sauce and add in some protein! Voila! You have food on the table!

There are a few problems with that:

1. White refined pasta: Choose whole wheat pasta over refined white pasta because it has fewer calories, carbohydrates, fats and higher fibers.

2. Store bought pasta sauce: Its full of preservatives and sugar! In a minute you’ll see that pasta sauce from ‘real’ tomatoes is not that bright red color!!!

3. Adding a protein into a carbohydrate intensive meal: Its a big no no in the food plan I follow, my next post will explain in details why there is no mixing!

So I present to you a fresh-fresh, healthy and yummy pasta dish that you can can serve guilt-free to your guests, kids or loved ones ūüôā


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What do you need?

250 gm (raw weight) whole wheat pasta – cooked

5 large tomatoes

1.5 cups sliced mushrooms

2 large garlic cloves, one chopped and one whole

Fresh basil leaves

4 sprays of oil of choice

1 teaspoon of EVOO

salt to taste

This will make 4 servings!


Cook the whole wheat pasta and set aside

Steam the tomatoes until completely softened

Spray the oil onto the pan on high heat, sauté the garlic and mushrooms. Add salt to taste.

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Take the softened tomatoes and peel the skin off. It will come right off!

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In a blender, add the tomatoes, teaspoon of EVOO, clove of garlic, basil and salt. Blitz together until well mixed and looks like a sauce. See I told you there’s no bright red color!

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Transfer this sauce onto the pan containing the sautéed mushrooms and simmer in low heat for 5 minutes.

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Add in the pasta bit by bit into the sauce until well incorporated.

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Enjoy while warm!

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You can add in chili for an extra kick!

You can also make the sauce ahead of time and mix together right before serving! Garnish with a fresh basil leaf!

 

 

Dinner: Sweet and spicy ground beef lettuce wraps

food

Lunch is always slightly easier than dinner as you have the whole day to burn it off incase you eat something extra. Dinner on the other hand is less forgiving which is why by 7:30 pm, I eat the proteins and vegetables! 

I cross a Chinese restaurant almost everyday and today I woke up determined to eat a healthy version of my most favorite dish! Lettuce wraps without the excessive fats, sugars or MSG and I did it! 

I also served it to some guests I had over today and they loved it! I was so happy to have served something healthy and fresh! You can easily make the filling ahead and put it together when your guests have arrived! Very versatile! 


What do you need?

1 whole lettuce bulb

450 gram lean ground beef ( I used 5% fat ones)

(you could also use chicken or turkey mince)

1 cup diced peppers 

1 cup diced carrots 

2 tablespoons of good quality honey 

2 tablespoons of chili sauce or to make it even healthier use chili flakes/paste 

2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard 

2 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro 

3/4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped 

3 sprays of your oil of choice 

salt and pepper to taste 

You will make enough for 3 dinners! ūüėĬ†


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In a bowl, mix together the honey, mustard and chili sauce with 2 tablespoons of water and set aside 

Spray on the oil into the pan on high heat 

Add in the garlic, peppers and carrot with a dash of water to soften and sauté 

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After sautéing for 2-3 minutes add in the ground beef and salt/pepper 

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Stir the beef and break it up and you will notice the ‘fatty juice’ collecting¬†

Put the lid on and drain that liquid out, it is the fats from the ground beef and its gotta go!! Ech! 

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Return the pot onto the heat and stir in 2/3 of the mixture of honey/mustard/chili sauce that you had set aside. 

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Close the lid and let it cook for about 10 -12 minutes more. Make sure to stir occasionally during that time. You will notice the char on the beef and peppers and then add in that remaining honey/mustard/chili sauce mixture and the cilantro. 

Keep tasting the beef as you cook! Thats just standard operating procedure ūüėÄ

Take it off the heat, arrange the lettuce and fill them in! 

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Enjoy while warm! I had it with a side of steamed mixed vegetables!

* You can also add in sweet and sour chili sauce in which case leave out the honey and chili sauce however I would highly recommend using a chili sauce and honey mixture as you eliminate the high amounts of sugar in those sweet and sour sauces. 

* A great alternative would be to use a freshly made chili paste! That would be ideal especially if you used a mixture of fresh red chili and roasted chili. YUM! I will surely do that next time!

Also I do apologize for not including the calories, thats because I¬†don’t¬†calorie count and you shouldn’t either especially when you are eating clean and healthy!¬†

 

Stoup (stew + soup) : Red lentils with squash and spinach

food



We often overlook the simpler ingredients when devising a healthier food plan, we think we need the fancier stuff and equipped with the usual excuse of, ‘its so expensive to eat healthy!.’ Its not.¬†

Lentils are one of the best food source of slow-digesting carbohydrates! Perfect for lunch!¬†It is an excellent source of fiber, folate, manganese and iron. It’s especially great because it is not like the usual carbohydrates like white rice or bread where your sugar levels spike immediately after consumption instead it takes its times to convert to glucose. Along with these, it has been proven that it aids colon health, diabetics and absorption of essential minerals like calcium.¬†

Available everywhere and you can make it so delicious by simply boiling it and adding your favorite vegetables, even if you cant boil an egg you can boil lentils! 

So this is what I made for lunch today, again it is extremely versatile to carry out and you can make it for 2/3 days at a time. 


What do you need?

1 cup of red lentils

2 cups of butternut squash

2 cups of spinach

1/2 cup of cilantro

3 tsp of turmeric powder 

1 cup of cooked brown rice

Sea salt to taste 

This should yield 4 to 5 servings ( each serving is 1.5 cups)


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Clean the red lentils under water until it runs clear

Cover the lentils with water making sure it is completely submerged. Add the turmeric powder and salt.

On medium heat, boil the lentils for about 10 minutes 

Add in the butternut squash and cover the pot and let it simmer until the squash and lentils have completely softened. 

Using a masher, mash the squash and lentils as it simmers 

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Add in the spinach 

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Mix together until the spinach wilts and take a taste. Beware it’s super hot! I say this from experience! Ouch!

Add in the cilantro 

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Allow it to simmer for an additional 5 minutes under very low heat. It’s ready!¬†

Spoon the stoup (stew + soup) into a bowl and add a tablespoon of brown rice. The combination is perfect! 

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Enjoy! No fats, good carbs and lots of vegetables!

You can add any vegetables you want, pumpkin, beans, jalape√Īos, tomatoes, the list goes on and on! You can even skip on the rice but the texture really adds a little something.¬†

It was a perfect meal on this cold London afternoon especially on a day I was feeling extremely homesick . 

Lunch: Vegetable fried rice

food

Lunch is one of those meals that really helps you get through the day! There are such high expectations from lunch, it needs to fuel you and must be versatile enough to take to work/school/etc. Here’s a recipe that fits the bill, it’s packed with nutrients, you can make it once for 2/3 days and it’s holds well to carry out.

Remembering the 70:30 ratio of vegetables:carbohydrates I will give you only an approximation of how much vegetable you should add. Please feel free to add more!

Every household usually has their own fried rice recipe, stir fried vegetables, eggs, protein, rice together….but remember no mixing carbs and proteins! Here’s the trick to avoid stir frying those beautiful vegetables in oil and stripping it off it’s nutrients.

Steam them first! The steamer is my new best friend!


What will you need?

1 cup cooked and cooled brown rice
1 cup broccoli
1 cup carrots
1 cup mushrooms
1 cup green/red peppers
2/3 cloves of chopped garlic
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 cup spring onions
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
Sea salt to taste

Cook and cool the brown rice

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Steam the broccoli, carrots, peppers and mushroom till just tender. Make sure they don’t get soggy.

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In a hot wok, add 3 sprays of your oil of choice and toast the garlic. Add in steamed vegetables and stir.

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Add in the brown rice and stir together. Add salt to taste and soy sauce.

Mix well and add in chopped cilantro and spring onion. Mix together and serve!

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You can add a medley of vegetables to your liking. Corn and peas are a great addition! Store extra fried rice in air tight container and it will stay well for 4/5 days in the fridge. This should make you at least 4 servings!

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Enjoy!

Practice what you preach

Lifestyle

I loved cooking, I still love cooking. At a time when I feel I am actually making a realistic change in my life, the past and the future really haunts me. The past, because I remember the terrible eating habits, sedentary lifestyle and most importantly the buttery sugary goodies I would create! The future, because eventually I will be moving back to Dhaka in December and I’m scared that this displacement might throw me off along with a couple of ‘societal pressures’.

I have realized two things: people love to feed ‘fat’ people and secondly people love to feed their guests delectable foods that they would dare not eat themselves any other day of the year/month/week!

Believe me, I was the biggest culprit!

I used to cook these feasts for my friends and family with endless additions of butters, sugars and obviously it tasted like heaven! (If I may say so myself) but I wouldn’t eat those foods myself in general then why was I unintentionally harming my family/friends? Or why was I making a doggy bag for the person who is clearly struggling with their weight? It wasn’t like I had these evil intentions, it just happens to be an innate mind set in most cultures unfortunately.

I still don’t know why I was doing that but I do know that I will stop and it’s time we make a change. If I am trying so hard to attain a healthy lifestyle, my loved ones should reap the benefit from it too. Show them how tasty vegetable fried rice (recipe coming soon!) or vanilla chia pudding (recipe coming soon!) can be. ūüôā

Society is a strange thing, you will notice families and friends coming together to help a relative suffering with let’s say a drug addiction. They will arrange support groups, rehab facilities and anything to ‘cure’ him. But do you realize that that overweight person is suffering the same way? The sugars and fats are his addiction and it’s time we open our eyes to it. According to the WHO, more than 1.5 billion adults, 20 and older, were overweight!

I know it’s easier to avoid it because it is such an incredibly emotional and personal thing, make fun of it or simply feed his addiction but then what? Maybe it’ll be too late. The sad truth is that you will come across many ‘pseudo-caring’ people who will be the first to say you are too fat or too thin, first to ask you how you have become this size but when you need someone to really push you and help you, there’s no one. There are scores of silent judgers and no one to really help, so become someone who helps today or ask your sibling/friend to help you.¬†

So, let’s change, even if you are overweight or at the peak fitness of your life, there is something you can do! Be sensitive, starting with ‘I think you need to lose weight’ isn’t probably the best introduction because believe me they know it and live it everyday! So make it fun, join the gym together or play a sport together. Follow each other on fitness apps so you can monitor your food intakes. Challenge each other to see who can lose more weight. Find healthier alternatives together. Just because you have a gifted super metabolism, don’t suggest eating the greasy fatty stuff, eat healthy together!¬†

¬†It’s time we acknowledge this epidemic and do our part. If every person reading this helps just one person, imagine what difference we can make.¬†

I will begin posting recipes this week giving alternative options for people in Dhaka. Try these recipes out, make them with your friends who are struggling. You have no idea how much pain they are in. They need you more than you need them. I would love to hear your stories. 

One small step at a time. 

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PVSD Post vacation stress disorder; there’s a cure!

fitness, Lifestyle

So you have had the most fabulous vacation, you ate the best foods and relaxed to your hearts content. Now that you’re back home, we are all too familiar with that horrid feeling of, ‘what have I done?’ ‘Did I really eat all that food?’ ‘I am going on a strict diet now’ ‘I am never eating again!’

At least I know I have been a victim of those traumatic post vacation feeling all too many times. Again, don’t do that to your body, it takes 21 days to form a habit and for your body to accept the new great changes you have made. So treating your body like a trash can for the duration of your holiday just doesn’t make sense!

We traveled to Nassau, Bahamas for 5 days which was the first holiday where I tried to stay true to my routine and thoroughly enjoyed myself, guilt-free.

Start your morning the same way by having that delicious morning smoothie.

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1 banana | 4 strawberries | handful of blueberries | 1/4 cup water

Then I used the beautiful setting to inspire a good work out because I’m the type of person who just cannot control my food intake during holidays! ūüėõ

I started with a 5 minute jog in place.

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The resistance band is your best travel companion. It’s light, takes no space and allows for a killer workout! I used a band which resists 15lbs

Buy a resistance band

So this was my routine after 5 minutes of jogging.
3 sets of 12 bicep curls

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3 sets of 12 triceps

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3 sets of 12 shoulder press

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3 sets of 12 front rows
3 sets of 12 lateral raise

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 3 sets of 12 alternate extensions

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 3 sets of 20 squats

3 sets of 12 lunges

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3 sets of 12 side lunges

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3 sets of 20 sit ups

3 sets of 20 leg extensions

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Stretch it out and enjoy your day! Drink your protein! Take your multivitamins!

I ate lots of seafood and really enjoyed our vacation and best of all it felt great having none of those post holiday feelings! I successfully had no post vacation stress and this is just the beginning! 

If I can do it, believe me anyone can!

There is nothing called a full cheat day!

fitness, Lifestyle

My normal schedule in London begins with a fruit smoothie, I literally wake up dreaming of it. Followed by a 1.5 hour session with my trainer, Gary Ousby where we do HIIT (high intensity interval training).

Gary’s website

My point is that I am incredibly strict with myself during the week. I do not cheat and that really helps develop my self control in the subconscious level. I used to really look forward to the weekend as this were my cheat days! No training and eat whatever! The first two weekends I did just that but it made me feel like hell at the Monday morning training session! I wondered why!

Here’s the reality, you can’t just get off the wagon for 2 days and expect to jump right on after that! Yes, the human body is amazing but not that amazing! You are essentially confusing your body and that’s when it starts to store/crave the things that you are working so hard to eliminate. It’s up to you, which day do you food-cheat and which day do you train-cheat? ūüėõ

So, maintain your intense training sessions and strict food plan during the week, give yourself the 6th day to rest your body. When you are giving your body a rest, keep your eating/drinking in check. On the 7th day, do something fun! Go for a walk, run with a friend, just do anything active which is not your regular regime. That night go to that new restaurant or eat that food you’ve been constantly craving! It’s all about that balance and really thinking about your body, keep it moving and constantly remind it that you won’t sabotage this new lifestyle as this time it is the real deal and not just another crash diet.

That’s exactly what I did today, I got a root canal and was very groggy from the numbness and pain. I realized that going outdoors during this beautiful weather in Great Falls,VA ( where i am on holiday now) would be the perfect pick-me-up! My sister and I went to the backyard and together we did a bit of running, core exercises, shared tips and played a game of basketball! It was so much fun, easy and a great way to spend time with my sister!

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It takes about 21 days to form a habit, imagine what happens inside your body when it tries to adapt to this amazing lifestyle for 5 days then gets thrown off! This analogy might put things in perspective, imagine you have a huge ugly blister on your arm and to heal it you ought to clean it with antibacterial wipes, cover it and absolutely no touching. So you follow that routine for 5 days then for the next 2 days you don’t do any of it and just let it be. Will it ever heal? Think about it! Just because we cannot see what’s happening on the inside it’s much easier to avoid it. Don’t avoid what’s inside, it is what’s keeping you alive!

Keep at it! Enjoy the transformation! Enjoy your cheat days, don’t let that temporary euphoric feeling ruin your permanent goal!

Food Plan : Not a diet plan

food, Lifestyle

So I used to be obsessed with counting calories, I had every app ever to count my daily intake! I didn’t realize while I was focused on the overall calorie count I was avoiding the ‘real’ information i needed to monitor. Sugars sugars sugars!!!!

A low fat yoghurt that I was happily eating on my ‘diet’ contained about 45g of sugar/ 8 fl oz while a full fat whole milk yoghurt contained 12g of sugar/ 8 fl oz!!!!!!!! Mind blown! Read your labels! Most countries (if any) DO NOT regulate the addition of sugars so while there maybe no fat, it is getting compensated with a huge chunk of sugar!

Basically our bodies respond to sugar like any other euphoria enhancing drug, I’m sure we are all guilty of that great feeling while eating our favorite bar of chocolate but ever notice the absolute hell-ish feeling afterwards? That’s the crash! Now you need more chocolate to make yourself feel better. Thus begins the vicious cycle!

Here’s a way to curb/cut off your cravings for refined sugars:

Eat fruits till lunch, fruits contain fructose which does not abruptly cause sugar fluctuations in your body and takes it’s time to digest unlike sucrose in refined sugar. So your body gets that dose of sugar you are unintentionally craving and slowly you will lose your dependency on sucrose and turn to fructose! It took me a whole month! (morning smoothie recipe to follow)

So once that’s covered, here’s the simple plan:

Do not mix carbohydrates and proteins!

Eat the carbohydrates for lunch like brown rice, whole wheat pasta, grains, quinoa, etc mixed with vegetables.

Eat lean proteins like chicken, turkey, fillet, etc mixed with vegetables for dinner.

Take minimal oil by using the spray.

Snack on seeds, nut butters and never ever let yourself feel hungry! That’s the sign of your metabolism going down a notch!

Lastly, water water water is your best friend! (Flavored waters post to follow)

Give it a shot! It is super easy especially when eating out! Just think before you eat!

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